thoughts on superbowl sunday

Today as many Americans gather to watch the Superbowl, I remember the first time I was abroad on a different American holiday — the Fourth of July. I was 17 and was in Florence studying Italian for the summer. The school had a special Fourth of July meal with traditional American food — burgers, fries, ice cream, etc. — and I remember how strange it felt to realize that the Fourth of July wasn’t celebrated everywhere. The school was just being nice to its American students.

Of course the Superbowl isn’t actually a holiday, but in the States it might as well be. It’s the most widely-watched sporting events of the year, and a single 30-second ad during the game costs advertisers $5 million (or $166,666 per second). The half-time show is always a huge production—this year’s show features Justin Timberlake—and it’s just generally a time of both rivalry and fellowship for families across the nation.

For many people worldwide, though, the Superbowl is, “What? Oh yeah, that American thing.” In these countries people get excited about the World Cup, or Wimbledon, or The Grand National, or Polo, or . . . I once met a group of Australians while traveling with friends in Thailand. The Australians were trying to explain Australian football to us, and we Americans were like, “What?”

It’s interesting how much pride people take in team sports, though. In the South, college football is king, and people are loyal to their “home team” until death. I’ve never been a big sports fan, but I do think that to ignore the power of sports is to miss out on an important cultural phenomenon. The kinds of sports we play, the rules, the players, the fans, the coaches, the actions of everyone involved — these things matter. There have been numerous examples over the years of big-name sports players acting like total jerks both on and off the field. Just because someone’s a big name player doesn’t mean they should get a pass to be a jerk, though. If anything it means we should hold them to a higher standard. After all, these are people our children look up to and who represent America to the world. No one likes an arrogant whiner jerk. So why do we tolerate players who act that way?

Additionally, there have been mixed reactions to the amount some sports stars and coaches are paid. Alabama Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban reportedly earns a salary $11.125 million per year, and top NFL players like Tom Brady make more than $20 million per year. Holy cow! Now I’m not saying that these people aren’t worth the money they’re making, and I recognize that in some instances they’re actually putting their lives (or at least their health) on the line for the work that they’re doing. However, I am saying that the amount they make shows where our society’s priorities are — for better or for worse.

What are your thoughts on American sports and coach’s/players’ salaries? I am by no means an expert in this field. Just one American girl writing a post while the Superbowl is on — and I don’t mean on the TV. I don’t even own a TV!

P.S. If you haven’t seen the below SNL skits, you should check them out. Pretty funny!


12 thoughts

  1. In response to your question …. I really struggle with this. On the one hand, nobody is worth that kind of money. No actor, CEO, athlete, coach, or anybody else. But then I think about how much money is now generated by these sports and if the players and coaches don’t get it, the owners will. It’s like this never-ending cycle of constantly increasing ticket prices, rights fees paid by tne networks, salaries paid to the athletes and profits made by the owners. And what happens is that people like me just don’t go see that many games anymore because of how expensive it is to do so. We will never,, however, go back to the days when professional sports were affordable and attainable for the average Joe on anything more than a “once a year” basis. Owners shouldn’t get all of the profits, but no athlete is worth $20 million. I wish they would dial all of this back and give us fans a chance to see games without breaking the bank.

    • Yeah, I think you’re right. Logically the amount they’re paid makes no sense, but yes, the sports and entertainment industries are huge. They’re not going away EVER. I just think it’s crazy that the football coach is paid approximately ten times what the university president makes at Alabama. Somehow that just doesn’t seem right.

  2. In general, I try not to think too much about how much sports people are paid. It’s market forces and if the market can sustain it then good on them and their managers.
    What riles me is when behaviour goes south and a sense of entitlement creeps in. In addition, in Rugby League and other football codes in Australia (and elsewhere), salary caps partially ensure an even playing field so a well off club can’t dominate for too many years in a row.
    I’ve lived in Australia all my life and haven’t got a clue about Australian Rules Football. I’m keen on Rugby League and to a lesser extent Rugby Union.
    I hope you enjoy watching the super bowl. American football is baffling. It has so many stops and starts, and why is there a need for an offensive and defensive team?

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Gary! I love hearing your perspective on American football. It’s so refreshing! :D I too dislike it when players’ behavior goes south, and entitlement is obnoxious. I like the fact that the Rugby League has salary caps and a way to keep particular groups from dominating indefinitely. The teams that stay in power here become arrogant, and it can be difficult for other teams to recruit talented players to create a more level playing field.

      • Thanks Jessica. Sometimes though, corruption rears its ugly head and some teams will rort the salary cap. When it’s happened here, teams have been penalised and one team in particular was stripped of its premiership titles and had to go a whole season stripped of earning any points.

    • I didn’t watch it either but heard the same thing. Most everyone I know were rooting for the Eagles. I think a lot of people are tired of the Patriots, and who doesn’t love a good underdog win?

  3. What would be neat to see is all those heinous-amounts of profit being funneled back into the country or community into a worthy cause–like concussion research. No one talks about it, though it has been more on the radar lately, but good Lord football players take a freaking beating:

    And could you just imagine how much good we could get done for the country if there were REASONABLE salary caps and all this extra money FROM EVERY SPORTS TEAM were funneled to health care, first responder training and equipping, housing, or that kind of thing? Anything. Geez, it boggles the mind. There are so many areas of daily living that could benefit from that kind of funding. Such salaries are beyond ridiculous and the needless damage those players get is unconscionable. Just because Young Toughs sign away their lives with their “eyes wide open” doesn’t mean they should be allowed to. When you’re young and tough you’re never gonna die and you’re never gonna grow old…but you will and you do. And people should be allowed to gracefully grow old without unnecessary sports-related issues that destroy a person mind and body. These guys aren’t saving people from burning buildings…they’re literally pounding the crap out of themselves purely for entertainment. As you stated, that says a lot about our society and there is something seriously wrong about that.

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